This century-old CEO advice is as relevant as ever.
The American business magnates of the nineteenth century—the so-called robber barons—were fond of grand pronouncements.
Some of their famous quotes sound like the words of exploitative tycoons, like the time railroad developer Jay Gould (b. 1836) supposedly claimed he could “hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
Yet some of the words of early industrialists seem downright wise, even for CEOs running a business in the twenty-first century. Though nebulous “knowledge work” has largely supplanted the industrial operations of these men, here are seven slices of wisdom from their bygone era that still ring true.
1. “Statistics are no substitute for judgment.” —Henry Clay Frick (b. 1849)
Steel magnate Frick said this over one hundred years ago, back when there were a lot fewer statistics than there are today. In the data tsunami confronting modern business leaders, his words are truer than ever: we can’t let abundance of data points replace informed insight and judgment.